The Sega Saturn Swap Trick

 There are a number of people who are looking for an ultra-cheap method that will allow you to play burned copies of Saturn games or homebrew games without having to install a modchip. Your only other option is what is known as the swap trick.

This guide is based off of an anonymous writing from the glory days of SegaXtreme and I have re-written a number of parts and added parts of my own. Please make sure that you read this entire document before you attempt anything. I take no responsibility what-so-ever for anything you do to your Sega Saturn.

An additional disclaimer: The Swap Trick will eventually wear down the motor of your CD drive which may lead to a premature death of your Saturn. However, if you are really good at swapping quickly, you may be fine. In that case you should look into becoming a magician because your slight of hand skills are top-notch 🙂

Anyway, on with the guide…

Fooling Your Saturn Into Thinking The CD Lid Is Always Closed

Identify Your Saturn Model: The first thing you need to do is quite simple, and it really
helps out when you start swapping CDs. Take a look at your Saturn’s “Power” and “Reset” buttons. Are they shaped exactly like a circle? If not, you own a model 1 Saturn. If so,
you possess a model 2 Saturn.

Open Up The Saturn’s Case
There’s are only four screws you need to un-do with a Philips-style screwdriver (or not a flat-tipped screwdriver). You’ll see the screws, so I think a diagram is unnecassary. Put the screws in a place where you’ll remember them and won’t lose them. Once unscrewed, flip your Saturn right-side up and lift the top section of the case off. Be careful not to drop the bottom half of the Saturn, as that’s the important part and any damage is bad. The back compartment cover that holds the battery will probably fall out, set it to the side.

Duct Tape Fixes Everything
This step is pretty simple, but extremely important. It will fool your Saturn into thinking that the cd lid is closed all the time. Don’t worry, it will not damage your Saturn in any manner.

Look at the CD drive where the game discs go. Off to the left just a little bit is a little device. It looks somewhat plastic on my Model 2. But you’ll notice that it has a little lever that can be pushed in. Once you’re sure you know where it is, get the tape out. Any tape that’ll stick will do, but I love duct tape and it stays on forever. Tape the switch completey around in a circle. Make sure it holds the switch in. Once it’s taped, it’s time to put the case back together. It should be pretty easy to do. Don’t forget the back compartment lid.

Test Your Saturn
As long as you haven’t done anything I haven’t told you to, or hit something, it should work just fine. You should be able to play a game with the lid open or closed, as your switch you taped now fools your Saturn into thinking the lid is down.

If it worked, congratulations, your ready to swap cds! If not, well, take your Saturn case off and remove the tape.
You can attempt this again, just follow the instructions more closely. 🙂

Swap The Discs
Remember when you identified what model your Saturn was? Well, here’s where it comes in handy. If you own a Model 1 Sega Saturn, you’re in for a good ride. Us model 2 owners are in for nights of cursing and throwing controllers around. It isn’t impossible, it’s just a major pain to do at first. With enough practice, you may just master the Swap Trick.

Model 1 Sega Saturns

  • Put in the CDR of the game you want to play.
  • Turn on your Saturn.
  • Watch the drivelight – It will blink a few times. when it stops blinking,
    put in an original Saturn CD (any will do).
  • Wait until the drivelight flashes 3x quickly, then put in the CDR again.
  • The game should boot up fine and work.

Model Two Sega Saturns

  • Put in the CDR of the game you want to play.
  • Turn on your Saturn.
  • Watch the drivelight – It will blink a few times. when it stops blinking,
    put in an original Saturn CD (any will do).
  • Wait for the Sega logo to assemble and listen to the CD laser move.
  • Here you have to remove your copied CD and insert an official game CD.
  • Now wait and listen to the drive slow down
  • When you hear it moving again and speeding up, quickly remove the official CD and insert the copied CD.
  • As with the Model 1 swapping, the game should now work perfectly.

If it worked for you on your first time, congratulations! However, if it didn’t work for you, join the club. It’s a a real pain — especially for Model 2 owners, just keep trying. You’ll eventually get the hang of it. If you are frustrated beyond belief, a Modchip may be the ideal solution.

More Swap Trick Info:
Additional Info for Model 2 Saturn
Swap with Pro Action Replay
Swap with Model 2 Video (divx)

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29 Comments

  1. Mozgus says:

    This is handy if you have maybe just 1 or 2 copied games that you would have never been able to afford legitimately. But if you have more then that, just get a mod chip to show mercy on your aging saturn.

  2. Jan says:

    “Put in the CDR of the game you want to play.”
    Ok, now my CD-R is in the drive

    “Turn on your Saturn.
    Watch the drivelight – It will blink a few times. when it stops blinking,
    put in an original Saturn CD (any will do).”
    OK, now my original Game is in the drive

    “Wait for the Sega logo to assemble and listen to the CD laser move.
    Here you have to remove your copied CD and insert an official game CD.”
    Hang on, if I followed your instructions, the official CD IS in the drive already.

    Maybe you should explain this more clearly. It won’t matter to me since I have one of your chips in my Saturn (works great), but others are probably confused too.

  3. racketboy says:

    yeah that doens’t make sense, does it? I’ll have to double-check that when I get home.

    But I’ve never tried doing the swap on a modded Saturn.

    Does your have the chip in it?

  4. rattboi says:

    I’ve got a model 1, and about 20 backups, and I use the swap trick every time. I haven’t had any problems with it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for these Saturn-related posts. Nice too see some news about it from time to time, keep it up!

  6. Suzaku says:

    You actually have an unnecessary step in the Model 1 Saturn swap section. It only needs to go like this:

    1. Put a real Saturn game in the system and turn it on.

    2. When the Activity light flashes three times rapidly swap in the CDR.

    That’s all it takes for swapping without a PAR. I am using a Japanese Model 1 Saturn, so it may work slightly differently for US or European Model 1s, but I doubt it.

  7. Ángel says:

    I have a model 2 and I think that’s not so difficult, I didnt practice so much, just a few minutes. There are some games that are more difficult than others to make them work, but the key is in your patience. I’m doing that for three years and i dont have any problems now.

    “Thanks to everybody who trusts in Sega Saturn” 😉

  8. Anonymous says:

    racketboy DO SOMETHING about the swap trick.avi .for example give a http download,

    http://www.segaxtreme.net/misc/downloads/saturn2_swap.avi

    it doesnt work

  9. furrycurry says:

    thank you very much for the guide, i just need a little more info on this: “Off to the left just a little bit is a little device. It looks somewhat plastic on my Model 2. But you’ll notice that it has a little lever that can be pushed in.” — just so i’m sure, and don’t tape down the wrong thing, is this the piece of plastic which is visible when the cd drive is open? the piece which ‘clicks’ when the tray case is closed? …if so, if i tape it ‘back’ so that it doesnt click when the tray is closed, then the tray will always automatically be open… am i understanding this right, that this trick requires me to disable the ability to close the cd case (without taping it down or something)?

    ps a picture of the piece before and after taping, if possible, would be EXTREMELY helpful. but any help is appreciated.

  10. joe says:

    well ive tried this numerous of times about 50 times now im thinking that maybe i put the wrong files on the back up disk because it just seems its havin problems reading it. can someone tell me the exact files to put onto the CDR?

  11. hood says:

    to make swap trick on Model 2 not necessarily to insert back-up cd-r during turning on the console. it is enough to turn on the console with an original disk and wait the moment when the laser will read through the information from the external party of a disk and as soon as it will come back to the internal party u must replace a original disk on back-up cd-r. that’s all.

  12. fabio says:

    hey,
    i have a model 1 saturn, but it doesnt fit the description of your instructions for it. i saw a video on youtube of a guy swapping games on his model 1 saturn, and he opened it up to tape the thing or whatever, and his looks completely different than mine, and mine has oval buttons, so im assuming its a model 1. but mine doesnt have that little button that you can tape to trick the saturn, and i can take my lid completely off, its not connected in any way to the bottom part of the saturn. can someone help me out?

  13. racketboy says:

    Well, there must be something that tells your Saturn when the door is closed. See what gets pushed when the lid goes down.

    Do you have pictures?

  14. fabio says:

    yeah, i was trying to figure that out but couldn’t

    i dont have any pictures, but i could take some
    ill post them here later

  15. fabio says:

    i am moving right now
    so i dont have that much time
    but when i find some time, ill open up my saturn again and ill take pictures

  16. Jon says:

    Easier method for doing the swap trick on model 1 saturns:

    Put CDR in Saturn.

    Turn Saturn on, wait for Console to pop up. It won’t recognize the cd as a saturn game. That’s ok.

    Take out CD-R, put in original game.

    Hit Reset.

    Wait until light flashes 3 times quickly, then swap.

    It should load the game perfectly.

  17. Richard Birch says:

    Wow, it works people!! I found Jon’s method the easiest, but the other method works. No I can play my downloaded NiGHTS!! Also would it be possible to dump the copy protection of a saturn cd by creating a dummy disc, which is 80mins, and then swapping it in the pc cd drive, with the saturn disc (i.e opened cdrom and swap without drive knowing) I know this is how u can dump dreamcast discs, so could it work with saturn discs (p.s i know that the dc disc is different 2 a saturn cd)

  18. Belen says:

    I cannot get my Model 1 Saturn lid off! The left side is off, but, the right side is still be held onto. Do I have a different model 1 board? Please assist!

  19. Bobbus74 says:

    I have a model 1 Saturn which has been hidden away under my bed for years. I’ve just dug it out and am going to try the disc swap routine on it. I’ll post back later with my results. Fingers crossed!

  20. Bobbus74 says:

    Well I my Saturn now plays games with the CD lid open. I’m not having any luck with the disc swap though. Tried 2 CD’s (Radiant Silvergun and Daytona [both patched to Pal like my console]) but no success as of yet. Not sure if its the discs or my swapping tecnique.

  21. Logan says:

    Hey, thanks so much for this! I found a Model 1 Saturn at my local Great Escape (the best store ever) and this works great! I originally couldn’t get it to work because I didn’t put in the CDr first; it would load the opening screen, but no more. Now I’m gonna get my Radiant Silvergun, Dragon Force, Magic Knight Rayearth, Waku Waku 7, Silhouette Mirage, Princess Crown and translated Shining Force III on!! (I own pretty much all the other games I was interested in for the system.)

  22. mike says:

    original post
    At 6/1/2007 1:59 PM, fabio said…
    hey,
    i have a model 1 saturn, but it doesnt fit the description of your instructions for it. i saw a video on youtube of a guy swapping games on his model 1 saturn, and he opened it up to tape the thing or whatever, and his looks completely different than mine, and mine has oval buttons, so im assuming its a model 1. but mine doesnt have that little button that you can tape to trick the saturn, and i can take my lid completely off, its not connected in any way to the bottom part of the saturn. can someone help me out?

    I have a model 1 with differnt insides than a normal model 1 same as the guy fabio posted above i havnt seen anything on the web about this other version. It does not have a visible door lever to tape down. does anyone know anything about this version.

  23. speedlolita says:

    mike, I’ve just opened my model 1 and it is indeed there, it’s slightly to the right of the PSU. Worked fine and I booted Alpha 3 with it.

  24. Sean says:

    For those of you who have different insides on a Saturn Model 1, the lever you need to tape should be located on the top half of the console next to the opening mechanism for the disc tray. It should be screwed in. Its very small but easy to take care of.

    Hope this helps!

  25. Cameron says:

    I believe Sean is right… I’m looking now… It took me a while, but looking at where it is, I’m not surprised that a lot of people (as well as myself) hadn’t noticed. So, if you are looking on the inside of the console, the oposite side of where the open button is. You have the operating mechanism run by a paper-clip like metal that is there to lever the door up when you hit the open button. This is kind of difficult to explain, but on the one side of the top half of your console. You see this green circuit board, look to the opposite side and that is where the mechanism that I’m talking about is… Look for two grey wires that run to the bottom half of the console. Follow those wires to the top half of your console where they end. Now, look at where they end, and open and close your door a few times, you notice this little itty-bitty black thing popping out whenever the door is open, when you close it. You see the little black thing get pushed back in by the paper clip mechanism… I will find out now if this works.

    Ok, just plugged the saturn in quick and that is in fact it. But, I warn you, use scotch tape for a model 1 saturn, and I did my best to explain this to you guys. This little button is so small, that I have to use metric. It’s about 2 milimeters by 2 milimeters and pops out at like 4 milimeters.

    Now that I’ve been the bearer of knowledge here, can someone tell me how bad exactly this is for your saturn to endure the swap trick? I can’t internet shop, so I’m just using this as a temporary solution until I can buy some real games.

  26. matt says:

    Your Model 2 directions don’t make sense.

  27. AJ says:

    Success! I have a model 1 and directions worked fine… except it depends on which game is the original for me, for example… I boot Radiant Silvergun with an original of Daytona USA, and I boot Mr. Bones Disk 2 with an original of Mr. Bones Disk 1… Try different originals if anybody’s having trouble.

  28. Mikep says:

    I have the saturn model 1 with the little black lever that Cameron mentioned. I taped it so it wouldn’t pop out. When I boot the saturn with the burnt disk, the red light is constantly beeping, it doesn’t beep 3 times and stop. Is there something I’m doing wrong?

  29. Mikep says:

    Do I need to unscrew anything then try and tape it again?